Football fans on Twitter questioned Maurizio Sarri's decision to substitute Cristiano Ronaldo against Lokomotiv Moscow but a late Douglas Costa masterclass saved the Juventus manager from an onslaught of outburst following his side's drab performance in Russia.
The Bianconeri entered the mid-week's encounter having never lost any of the 14 games played this season but had a rare off day inside the RZD Arena to almost stall their qualification to the next round of the competition. Still, the Turin outfit started on the right note by opening the scoring via Aaron Ramsey in just under two minutes before Aleksey Miranchuk restored parity 10 minutes later.
The hosts basically held on and threw all they had at their opponents from that point onward, forcing the Old Ladies to do the bare minimum. The effect rippled through all the way to Cristiano Ronaldo who put a rather atypical performance against the Russian side. Earlier, the former Real Madrid star was denied the opportunity to break Lionel Messi's record of being the first player to score against 34 different Champions League teams by Ramsey.
300th #UCL goal for Juventus— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) November 6, 2019
Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick was fumbled by Guilherme Marinato and Aaron Ramsey was on hand to poke the ball home. Lokomotiv Moscow have equalised with the score level at 1-1.
Watch live: https://t.co/3wUsZ183KY. pic.twitter.com/ozPXIhhpSs
Inside the 81st minute, the 34-year-old Portuguese superstar was surprisingly replaced with Paulo Dybala, prompting fans to question the decision of Sarri. Many held the belief that Gonzalo Higuain, who also had an off-day, would the perfect man to be ejected considering the threat Ronaldo poses even on the worst of days.
Deep into additional time, Douglas Costa managed to curb the post-match rantings of the Juventus faithful by teeing up with Gonzalo Higuain to score a sensational winner. Check the Brazilian's strike below as well as the reaction of fans following Ronaldo's substitution:
Well if you're going to win a match in the 92nd minute, do it like Douglas Costa— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) November 6, 2019
The winger dribbles past a flurry of defenders and combines with Higuain to score a sensational goal, giving Juventus the win that seals their spot in the last 16.#UCL pic.twitter.com/Y0GZCnpAVX
Unless Ronaldo was injured, very hard to understand Sarri. Cristiano will rightfully be livid.— EiF (@EiFSoccer) November 6, 2019
CR7 hasn't had the best half of his career, but you just don't sub off a player like him.
Even if he was having the worst game of his career, he can always win you a game.
What is Sarri's obsession with Higuain? How can you sub Ronaldo off when you need a goal. Should've been Dybala for Higuain.— Tom (@CynicalLive) November 6, 2019
Cristiano Ronaldo when Sarri subs him off pic.twitter.com/FkLM03rbCF— ShotOnGoal (@shotongoal247) November 6, 2019
Juventus have qualified after beating Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1. But on another note, what was Sarri smoking? To sub off Ronaldo in a Champions League match????? #LokomotivJuve #UCL pic.twitter.com/MLHIyJCxFG— CRonaldoDaily.com (@BreatheRonaldo) November 6, 2019
Even if Ronaldo is having a bad game(which he's not) u don't sub him, you know it takes one ball in the box, a moment of magic from him will win u the game, instead take off 1 of ur 3 Cms and play dybala as a no10, but he just had to be a bastard— A banter// disclaimer: Read bio (@kingtobbie) November 6, 2019
How do you sub off ronaldo— derek clause (@flirtstonehudin) November 6, 2019
Sarri left Higuain on and chose to sub Ronaldo off??— Tommy Vercetti (@WeLiiveBaby) November 6, 2019